December 12, 2014

The Network on SSRN: Neil Walker on Secession Movements and EU Membership

Network member Neil Walker (Edinburgh, visiting this term at Yale) has alerted us to a new piece posted on SSRN entitled "Beyond Secession? Law in the Framing of the National Polity," which is forthcoming in a collective volume on nationalization and globalization from Hart Publishing.  The abstract is below and the full article can be downloaded here.

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This paper examines the legal and political course of contemporary secession struggles within the European Union, with particular reference to the recent Scottish referendum, the 'consultation' in Catalonia, and the developing situation in Flanders. The focus is upon the way in which secession debates have become tied up with the question of the EU membership prospects of the potentially seceding state. The EU institutions themselves have adopted an attitude of 'conservative neutrality' to these prospects and to the legitimacy of secession more generally – a minimalist approach which largely defers to the various and differing domestic constitutional arrangements of the ‘parent’ state and which, at best, does not exclude new membership where secession may be compatible with these domestic arrangements. The paper contrasts the unwillingness of the EU to assume a directorial role in the theatre of European secession – an attitude which has some anomalous consequences but which accurately reflects the EU’s weak legitimacy over such a ‘high political’ question – with its highly significant role in the more elementary matter of stage (re) design. For the very existence and development of the EU as a supranational entity, alters the basic calculus through which we attribute value – both instrumental and expressive – to forms of political life at, above and below the level of the state. And while the full historical consequences of the EU’s reframing exercise remain unsettled and unpredictable, they are already reshaping political expectations and aspirations in ways that alter our very sense of the significance of 'secession' and associated statuses.

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